Winston Tong

In a Manner of Speaking

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Winston Tong's all-inclusive view of his muse -- where singing and songwriting is part of a larger whole rather than his sole focus of interest -- has meant he's sometimes received short shrift even from sympathetic voices, seen wholly in terms of Tuxedomoon or his irregular releases. The joy of In a Manner of Speaking lies in its handy summarizing of the musical part of Tong's work in life as well as acknowledging that larger context more thoroughly; if LTM's reissues of Theoretically Chinese, Like the Others, and Miserere went some distance on that front, this disc does an even better job. Drawing on those three albums, predominantly the first two, In a Manner of Speaking starts off with something else again -- his most legendary song, the title track, which appeared on Tuxedomoon's Holy Wars. A skeletal arrangement, matched with Tong's astonishing lyric about emotional conflict and hesitance, resulted in an oft-covered classic, but handily its appearance here doesn't overwhelm the rest of the disc, instead providing an initial context for the other choices. Those who know Tong's work from the LTM reissues will still find some surprises here, including a 1990 compilation selection featuring his slightly off-kilter cover of the Duke Ellington classic "Prelude to a Kiss" and another cover, Syd Barrett's "Late Night," from a 1985 movie soundtrack. Another Tuxedomoon song, "The Stranger," also takes a bow, as does his reworking of "The Twelve Days of Xmas." As for the more familiar cuts, songs like "Reports from the Heart" and "Like the Others" further confirm Tong's abilities as ever.

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